A public garden & cultural center

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness

April 08 - July 09, 2017

Artists: Samira Abbassy, Jaishri Abichandani, Huma Bhabha, Chitra Ganesh, Scherezade Garcia, Mariam Ghani, Kris Grey, Fay Ku, Tracey Moffatt, Zanele Muholi, Nancy Spero, Marie Watt, Yee I-Lann

Women have long been treated and portrayed as outcasts, banished to a literal or symbolic wilderness on the fringes of the social order, whether for political, cultural or religious transgressions. Portrayals of their casting-out span regions and cultures across the globe and across millennia—from Lilith to Jezebel to Hester Prynne. Intensified by the current political climate, and marred by economic disparity and geopolitical conflicts, women continue to be marked as outcasts. A public garden and cultural center located in the Bronx, Wave Hill’s spring show acknowledges the continued need for activism and cultural production that builds bonds across lines of identity and difference, informing and empowering individual and collective memory.

The prolific oeuvre of artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009), who took these “outcasts” under her wing by creating a figurative cast of characters to populate her scroll and wall paintings, is the impetus for Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness. A selection of her works on paper will be featured alongside paintings, sculpture, photographs and video by the work of a dozen artists born in the 1960s and ‘70s. These include Samira Abbassy, Jaishri Abichandani, Huma Bhabha, Chitra Ganesh, Scherezade Garcia, Mariam Ghani, Kris Grey, Fay Ku, Tracey Moffatt, Zanele Muholi, Marie Watt, Yee I-Lann. The exhibition is organized by guest curators Deborah Frizzell and Harry J. Weil, and by Wave Hill Senior Curator Jennifer McGregor and Curator of Visual Arts Gabriel de Guzman.

Recreating a mix of multiple historical narratives, ancient mythologies and contemporary events, Spero focused on the female figure as protagonist. Three themes that emerge from her work are explored in Outcasts: finding a voice, the process of constructing multiple perspectives on female identity; hybrid alternatives to the status quo, harnessing ancient and modern mythologies to subvert the established social and cultural order; and healing and empowerment as pathways to resistance, inclusiveness and recovery from loss and trauma.

Above, at right: Nancy Spero, La Folie III, 2002. Printed collage on paper, 72 1/2” x 18 1/2”. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York, NY.



Samira Abbassy, Department of Nuclear Medicine, 2015. Charcoal on Paper, 44” X 30”. Courtesy of the artist.


Yee I-Lann, Landscape, 2016. Giclée print on Hahnemühle photorag paper, 19 1/2” x 66”. Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, NY. 


Fay Ku, Dogwood, 2015. Mixed media on layered and cut sheets of drafting film mounted on Plexiglas, 35” x 46”. Courtesy of the artist.


Marie Watt, Ledger: Predator and Prey, 2015. Reclaimed wool blankets, satin binding, embroidery floss, thread, 19” x 14”. Courtesy of the artist and PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR.

Pictured at top: Nancy Spero, La Folie III (detail), 2002. Printed collage on paper, 72 1/2” x 18 1/2”. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York, NY.

Read the press release for the show here

Join us on Sunday, May 21, for Outcasts: Finding a Voice. The event will include a curator and artist conversation and a spoken word program. 

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. 

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